Using different running surfaces

July 29, 2013

Most runners will put in the majority of their work on paved roads. Neighborhood streets shouldn’t be the only place that you train, however. Many experts report that running on different surfaces offers myriad benefits, from injury prevention to improvements in performance. Runner’s World recommends taking routes to trails, grass, sand, or even water to reap the individual benefits of each. Here are the best ways to take advantage of a new environment.

Trail running already has a large following, but for those who aren’t experienced in it, investing in a pair of shoes specially made for the trails is a good starting point. Unpaved paths are unpredictable, so if you’re used to paved roads, it can increase your awareness and focus on your movements. You must avoid all of the natural obstacles like rocks and trees, which will keep you alert and cut down on the monotony of a straight, flat run. Trails also inherently add the benefit of bearing hills, an advantageous source of challenge for any runner.

Running on a grass surface can significantly lower the risk of injury by reducing impact on your feet and legs. A well-tended surface like a football field is ideal in that it’s flat and even, but grassy hills can often be of use as well. Be careful to ensure the surface you run on doesn’t have any divots you could fall or trip over.

Many runners will find themselves a bit restless over a tropical vacation. A morning run on the beach is not only very peaceful, but also extremely good for your health. A forgiving surface of sand will help strengthen all of the muscles in your lower legs as they must work harder to keep you upright and at speed.

Perhaps the least common alternative, running in water can be an excellent way for an injured runner to rehabilitate an injury due to the low impact of the exercise. This option will also work all of the muscles in your legs harder than usual running. The added thickness of water ensures that your legs don’t get a break at any point, with your muscles constantly pushing to move forward.

Ultimately, one of the biggest auxiliary motivations behind running on another surface is a simple change of scenery. Oftentimes, keeping things inside can accomplish the same goal. Instead of hitting the usual road route, try staying in and using your TRUE M50 Home Treadmill. Its orthopedic belt will also give your legs a much-needed break from the punishment road running can inflict.